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Planning your California road trip using Hyatt points

May 07, 2021
8 min read
Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort
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Even though we’re starting to see more countries open their borders to vaccinated travelers, including Greece and other countries in the EU, not everyone is ready for a long-haul flight across the world just yet. But if you can make it to California — or are lucky enough to live in the Golden State, like I do — a road trip through the state can be a great option for your next vacation.

And you can use World of Hyatt points for hotel stays at every stop.

Hyatt is known for having an array of hotel options under its umbrella — from family-friendly hotel brands with full kitchens like Hyatt House to luxurious Park Hyatt properties in cities like Sydney, Paris and New York.

But you don’t have to go far to experience a Hyatt property, because there are plenty to choose from for your California adventure. Take a look at the ones I can’t wait to visit on my next road trip.

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Resort at Squaw Creek

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

The Resort at Squaw Creek is a part of Destination by Hyatt and is situated just minutes from North Lake Tahoe, a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and other outdoor activities in the summer. Squaw Valley is also the location of the 1960 Summer Olympics and a great place to start your California road trip.

No matter the time of year, there is always something to do, either at the resort or nearby. One of my favorite low-key activities in Lake Tahoe is to find a quiet beach and admire the stunningly-blue water of the lake.

Paid rates frequently top $400 per night, but you can book a standard room for 25,000 World of Hyatt points.

Read more: Your complete guide to the World of Hyatt program

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Alila Napa Valley

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

The Alila Napa Valley is a recent addition to Hyatt's portfolio, situated right in the heart of the world-renowned wine region. A two-hour drive north of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Napa Valley is home to so much more than just wine-tasting tours and vineyard views. Napa also boasts world-class spas and other unique experiences — like the hot springs in nearby Calistoga.

After your well-deserved spa break and wine tour, your next stop should be one of the amazing restaurants in the area. Reservations for restaurants like the French Laundry fill up months in advance, so you’ll want to pre-plan for this meal. But if you find yourself in Napa without dinner reservations, you might be in luck with the American Express Global Dining Collection.

The cash rate at the Alila Napa Valley can be over $800 per night, while the same room is only 30,000 World of Hyatt points.

El Capitan Hotel

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

There aren’t a lot of points hotels near Yosemite National Park, but El Capitan, an independent hotel that's part of Hyatt’s JdV brand, is close enough to the famed park to be included in our list of Hyatt properties for your California road trip. The brand-new hotel — located in Merced, CA — can be booked with just 8,000 World of Hyatt points for a standard room (or splurge for a suite at just 13,000 points). If Yosemite is too far, this hotel is also in a great location to explore Merced National Wildlife Refuge.

Rooms at El Capitan Hotel are a steal at 8,000 Hyatt points per night, compared to a standard room rate of about $180. This could also be a great spot at which to use a free-night certificate from the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Related: Some national parks (again) requiring reservations before visiting this summer, including Yosemite

Mar Monte Hotel

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

Dubbed the American Riviera, Santa Barbara — where the Mar Monte Hotel is located — is located on California’s Central Coast. A lesser-known wine region, Santa Barbara is a great place to spend a few quiet days and nights during your California road trip.

Mar Monte is a boutique hotel steps away from the beach, and it's part of Hyatt's growing Unbound Collection brand. At just 20,000 Hyatt points per night (compared to cash rates that can exceed $300) you can’t beat the value — nor the view from your room’s balcony.

Read more: Quiet beachfront getaway: A review of Hyatt’s Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara

Andaz West Hollywood

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

A trip to California isn’t complete until you’ve spent some time in Hollywood. The Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, Sunset Boulevard and even Universal Studios are only the beginning of the adventures to be had in the Los Angeles area. And the Andaz West Hollywood is the perfect place to call home during your stay in La La Land.

Redeem 20,000 World of Hyatt points for a standard room or up to 40,000 points for a premium suite at this hotel. Alternatively, a standard room can also be booked with cash for about $230 per night — though rates can easily exceed $300 during popular travel times.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club and Spa

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

The Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad was just updated earlier this year and is a must-stay for the Southern California portion of your itinerary. TPG’s Chris Dong stayed at the hotel earlier this year and loved it.

The resort has two pools — one for families and one for adults 18 years and older — plus a fitness and recreation center as well as several tennis courts. You can even reserve a surf concierge for private surfing lessons on the beach.

If you find yourself wanting to explore the area, Carlsbad is less than an hour north of beautiful San Diego — where you’ll find warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures as well as the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

This is another great value option at 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for a standard room that usually goes for $600.

Read more: The 15 best things to do in San Diego

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

As you continue south, consider a stay at the recently-opened Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas. This Hyatt property — located between Carlsbad and San Diego — boasts stunning views of the water.

The coastline was clearly the muse for the design of this hotel, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property, constantly reminding guests of the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

The property just started welcoming guests earlier this year, and you can book a room for 25,000 World of Hyatt points or a whopping $800 per night.

Honorable mention

California is lucky to have other amazing Hyatt properties that are also worth considering for your California road trip. Ventana Big Sur, another Alila property, joined Hyatt in 2018 and has been called the program's nicest resort in North America. The resort also just became an all-inclusive property, and with paid rates that typically start at $2,000 per night (or 30,000 Hyatt points), this can be an outstanding deal.

Hyatt also opened two brand-new locations in Oceanside — another beach town between Carlsbad and San Diego. Both the Seabird Resort and Mission Pacific started welcoming guests in May 2021, and they're both Category 5 properties, requiring 20,000 points for a free night in a standard room.

Read more: Your guide to the World of Hyatt award chart

Bottom line

California is the perfect road trip destination thanks to the diverse landscape and array of possible destinations — from mountain getaways, beach retreats and city escapes. And there are plenty of Hyatt properties throughout the Golden State to ensure that you're comfortable and taken care of at every stop.

From Squaw Creek to Napa Valley and Santa Barbara to San Diego, there is a Hyatt property at every turn.

Featured image by Ventana Big Sur (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.